What PUA encoded characters are and how to use them.
This page is part of The Ultimate Font Guide, an introductory font manual that explains the basics of fonts and how to install fonts, use them in different applications and more.
What are PUA Encoded Fonts
PUA stands for “Private Use Areas”. When a font is PUA encoded it means that you can access all special characters such as the flourishes and swirly lines through Windows and Mac and that you can load them into applications such as Cricut Design Space and Silhouette Studio.
Fonts that are not PUA encoded will still work in for example Cricut Design Space and Silhouette Studio, but only with the standard characters. The extra fancy characters that you are looking for won’t work here. They do however work in applications such as Adoble Illustrator.
So, if you are going to use your cutting machine and designing with Cricut Design Space and Silhouette Studio, make sure to use PUA Encoded Fonts. If you are not sure, always ask the designer.
The easiest way of accessing all PUA encoded characters
Windows Character Map and Mac Font Book are the most standard ways of accessing PUA encoded characters. On this page below, you can read how to use these tools. Although they are very simple to use, they do have some drawbacks. For that reason we have developed a free online font manager called fontcloud. With fontcloud you can easily view all your fonts in a single overview and browse through all the characters. You can give fontcloud a try on this page.
How do I access extra characters in PUA Encoded Fonts on Windows
In this example we will access the special characters in the “Marcella Script” font.
When I type normally “Little Big Crafter” with Marcella Script I will see this:
It’s beautiful but I want the extra characters to make it even more awesome!
First thing to do is to install the font. To install the font in Windows, read our installation manual.
After installing you will need to open Windows Character Map. This application is included on all Windows computers. To access Character Map just hit the windows bar and start typing “Character Map”.
Open the application and in the “Font” dropdown, select the font you want to use and make sure the “Advanced View” box is checked.
In the “Group by” dropdown select “Unicode Subrange”
In the “Group By” menu that opened on the right side, scroll to the bottom and select “Private Use Characters”.
Now on the left side you will see all the PUA encoded characters. You can click on the characters to see them a little bit bigger. If you want to use one of the characters click “Select” and after click “Copy”. Now you can go to your application and ctrl+v the character and it will show up!
How do I access extra characters in PUA Encoded Fonts on Mac
To use the extra characters on a Mac, first you have to install the font. To install the font on a Mac, please check out this tutorial.
After you installed the font:
- Go to your Applications Folder.
- Search for the program called “Font Book” (this is the program that is also used for installing fonts).
- Open Font Book and choose the font that you want to use – we’ve chosen Sunkisa. By default, you should see a sample of the regular characters of the font:
- To view all of the available characters in the font (including the PUA characters), you need to switch to the ‘repertoire’ preview. Do this by either clicking ‘view’ and then ‘repertoire’ from then menu bar, or clicking on the button indicated below:
- Now you will be able to see all the characters included in the font that you selected.
- Select the character that you want to use and click “Edit” and “Copy” or “CMD + C”.
- Go to your application where you want the character to show up and right click and paste or “CMD + V”.
- Now the character is visible in the application you are using.